Norwegian Black Metal. I admit I love it and I usually know what to expect and to a lesser extent that’s the case with four-piece Keiser, who deliver a traditional, raw Norwegian Black Metal sound that is well executed….. But it doesn’t stop there, they’ve added to this, a fresh progressive edge, not like some old 70’s throwbacks, this is a modern and forward thinking approach and to maintain the rawness they’ve thrown in a thrashy element too, adding an even more exciting quality to this, their second studio full length “Our Wretched Demise,” a superb album that has definitely grabbed my attention.
As far as lyrical content goes, Keiser wanted to make an album where war is the general theme and so the lyrics deal with different aspects of war, especially the human side of it, delivered with an acerbic, vitriolic Black Metal vocal style.
The tracks are as ranging in length as they are in content. From the short, scene setting fifty second intro “Prelude to War” or the acoustic reflective, one and a half minute instrumental “The Fog,” to album closer, the ten and a half minute epic, title track “Our Wretched Demise” which builds with smouldering darkness and sinister intent, wending its menacing way along and oozing vitriol, particularly in the vocals. Yet a subtle melodic undercurrent still manages to emerge, bursting briefly into something that is dark and thrashy but still managing a few progressive bursts to surprise and delight, with sublime midpoint leadwork to surprise you further before diving back into the murky blackness, a powerful and well filled offering.
The album opens positively, on the fast, aggressively Black “Scourge Of the Wicked” which deals with propaganda as a weapon in war, it twists and turns unrelentingly and every direction and tempo switch brings surprise upon surprise, even a mid-point burst of uplifting melody and a second half burst of progressive influenced leadwork, followed by “Cannons of War.” Sparce and sinister to open with the vocals taking the prominent roll, a raw sinister offering that is cleverly enhanced with bursts of leadwork and a dark dirty melodic undercurrent.
“When Fire Rides the Night Sky” lets loose a traditional black and intense delivery that emerges out of a dirty distortion, turning slightly thrashy after a few well executed direction switches, with a surprising complementary melody emerging in the second half, followed by a superb lead burst.
“Shroud” has an intense driving repeat to open which maintains the fury even when the direction switches, which it does with regular reckless abandon and even manages to drop in a couple of swathes of haunting progressive influenced leadwork and an emerging progressive melody as well as second half subtle backing choral work too. An exhilaratingly magnificent listen and “Far from Human” continues in the unrelenting breakneck pace of its predecessor, punctuated with bursts of rapid riffing, neck snapping direction switching and a second half thrashy lead burst, as does the second longest offering “Eternal Onslaught” but with a more progressive undercurrent although the pace drops away, staying dark and sinister as it progresses with a thrashy burst, then turning acoustic and reflective before making an epically progressive melodic return.
“Our Wretched Demise” is a superb and varied listen, no favourite tracks for me, it would be like picking a favourite child, and if Keiser reflect the future of Norwegian Black Metal, you’ll get no complaints from me, they certainly have the best application of a progressive influence to Black Metal I’ve heard to date, so as far as I’m concerned, that future looks bright, in a dark malevolent way!
“Our Wretched Demise” is out on Non Serviam Records on the 27th of November and available to pre-order from the web shop via the links below.
Rating – 5/5